More Than Just A Pot Of Soup

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Those humble looking ingredients (cabbage, potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, tomatoes, peas, dill) may not seem that exciting, but they make one great pot of soup. But it’s alot more than that. This is a soup that my grandpa made all the time, and would send us home with mayonnaise jars full, or that I would eat while my sister and I were being babysat. I loved this soup – I would eat it straight out of the jar, not even bothering to heat it up. I always wished my mom knew how to make it, but since this is from my dad’s side of the family, it wasn’t in her repetoire. As an adult, I finally spent an afternoon with my grandpa learning to make the soup. What kind of soup, you may ask?

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Borscht! “Where are the beets?”, I’m sure you are asking. My dad’s side of the family came from the Doukhobors in Russia. If you aren’t familiar with the Doukhobors, Wikipedia has an excellent article on their history here. Although my family was never very involved in the religious aspect of it, we definitely ate alot of the food. That’s one of the things that made going to my grandparents’ place special – we might get to eat perogies or borscht or these Russian fruit pies. We were also put to work making alot of those pies and perogies. But never the borscht. Which was why I finally had to ask my grandpa to show me how it was made. He had no recipe written down, so I just had to watch and document it as best I could so I could reproduce it later.

The ingredient list is short, but there are a few steps involved. I’m not 100% sure what the cooking process does to affect the flavour, but who am I to mess with tradition? Well, okay, I did…my grandpa originally used about 1/2 lb of butter, which really, was a bit excessive. So I’ve lightened it up in that respect, and it still tastes like it should. I must note – grandpa said you absolutely CANNOT substitute oil or margarine. Who am I to argue? Also keep in mind, it’s simply a vegetable soup, so if you have some other veggies hanging around, feel free to throw them in (grandpa was an experimenter himself – one time he made cherry filled perogies…not the best).

Grandpa’s Doukhobor Borscht
Makes….alot. Let’s say 12 servings.

  • 6 cups water
  • 3 large potatoes
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 cup green peas or green beans
  • 28 oz canned diced tomatoes
  • 2 large onions
  • 1 small head cabbage
  • 6 tbsp butter, divided
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup fresh dill
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • heavy cream, for serving (optional)
  • 1. Peel and chop the potatoes. Cover with the water in a large soup pot/dutch oven. Boil until just tender & mashable.

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    2. While the potatoes are boiling, prep the other vegetables – peel & chop the carrots, chop the celery, slice the cabbage into thin strips & cut into smaller pieces, and dice the onions.

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    3. Once the potatoes are cooked, remove from pot with slotted spoon (do not discard the water!). Mash together with 2 tbsp butter and 1/3 of the canned tomatoes.

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    4. Turn the heat on the pot up to medium-high. Add the carrots, celery, peas, half the onions, half the cabbage, half the potato mixture, and half of the remaining tomatoes to the pot.

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    5. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Melt 2 tbsp of butter, then add the onions. Cook for approximately 5 minutes until translucent (you don’t want to brown them). Add the other half of the potato mixture and tomatoes. Cook another 5 min, then add to the pot.

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    6. Heat the remaining 2 tbsp of butter in the skillet, and add the remaining half of the cabbage. Cook until soft, but do not brown, approximately 10 min. Add to the pot (which should have been simmering away this whole time!).

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    7. Add fresh dill to the soup, season with salt & pepper to taste. Allow to simmer for 5 more minutes. Laddle into bowls, and drizzle with a bit of heavy cream if using. Garnish with more dill if desired.

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    The dill is really what makes the soup – be liberal with it! I probably added more than 1/2 cup, but I’m a dill fiend. This is actually the first time I’ve made the soup myself. I last had it with my grandpa almost 7 years ago. He passed away almost 5 years ago, so hopefully he’s somewhere looking down and approves of my borscht making skills (even if it’s missing more than half the butter!) 🙂

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    So, obviously I had borscht for dinner. I also baked breadZesty’s Bubbly Beer Bread! I used a giant bottle of Fat Cat Brewery Pompous Pompadour Porter (say that 5 times fast), which was almost enough for 2 loaves – I just made up the extra liquid with a bit of milk.

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    I snacked on a piece while I was making the soup.

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    I had another piece with my soup.

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    Love that soup. It reminds me of my childhood and my grandpa.

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    It was such an awesome dinner. And I have a ton of soup and bread I can freeze for those times when I was to get a little nostalgic and revisit my roots via food.

    I also had a snack featuring the yogurt I bought today – Liberte Coconut Yogurt.

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    I added 3 sliced strawberries, 1/2 of a mango, diced, and 2 spoonfuls of Coconut Macadamia Granola.

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    I. Love. This. Yogurt. It’s the perfect yogurt for a dessert type snack. I could probably sit down and polish off the whole container, but then I would be sad that it was all gone. This is going into regular rotation. And even though that mango is pale looking, it had great flavour.

    Wow…that was one long post. I hope you made it through. I need to hit the sack ASAP. Night!

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    Categories: Baking, Dinner, Recipe, Snack

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    19 Comments on “More Than Just A Pot Of Soup”

    1. January 26, 2009 at 3:06 am #

      YUMMY homemade dinner!!! 🙂 Thanks for the link to the granola recipe (I was going to ask about it!) 🙂

    2. January 26, 2009 at 5:22 am #

      WONDERFUL!!

    3. January 26, 2009 at 6:40 am #

      WOW! You were a super star in the kitchen today! The soup looks amazing and that bread….oh, my!!

      Glad to hear the yogurt was a treat!!

    4. January 26, 2009 at 7:27 am #

      What a FABULOUS dinner and fun family history!

    5. January 27, 2009 at 11:02 am #

      The soup looks wonderful. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe.

    6. March 22, 2009 at 9:19 pm #

      Oh that looks good! Good luck!

    7. March 23, 2009 at 2:08 pm #

      Congrats on the BSI win! My FIL is always trying to have me make borscht (sp?) but I don’t like beets!

    8. Michelle
      July 30, 2009 at 9:39 pm #

      thanks for the recipe… tasted just like my childhood memories

    9. Jay
      May 6, 2010 at 8:09 am #

      Hello

      Stumbled upon your blog looking for beer bread recipe. What a nice surprise to see your Doukhobor borsch posted as well as the bread! Its not often you see this particular borsch recipe, its usually a Russian beet borscht that will come up in a search. Your recipe made lower fat looks interesting and looks very tasty. I’ve never made a low fat version which is something Ishould be doing of course, but I have to say, the higher fat version is extremely delicious!

      I was given my borsch recipe by a Doukhobor woman while living in the Kootenays of BC in the early 70s. It became a favorite for my family instantly. My recipe calls for a good half cup butter or more, plus a pint of whipping cream so quite high in fat & calories compared to yours. The steps are a bit different too. The whipping cream is added to the potatoes when mashing unlike your tomatoes being added when mashing. Tomatoes & onions which are cooked together separately are added to the cooking water after the potatoes are removed for mashing. There is also 1-2 cups of diced potatoes added in the later stages of the borsch. Carrots are cooked along with the potatoes in the pot, with the potatoes being removed when tender for mashing with the whipping cream. No green peas in my ingredient list, mine calls for green pepper. Also, there is a single large beet root added for colour. The beetroot being discarded when the borsch is complete if desired.

      Isn’t it somthing how many versions of one recipe can be found? Different cooks with different ideas or ingredients for the same dish. Thats what makes cooking and baking so great. you can try one recipe so many ways you might never have the same one again!

      Heres a little “spelling” trivia you might find interesting. The woman who gave me the recipe, explained the spelling of Borsch. Doukhobor borsch is never spelled with a “t” as it is a vegetarian dish exclusive to the Doukhobor people. Borscht spelled with a “t” is referring too Russian beet borscht that quite often contain meat or meat broths. As she said, it is very very different!

      Thanks so much for posting your lovely recipes. I will give your beer bread a go for tonights dinner, and will be trying your lower fat version of Doukhobor Borsch very soon. I’m anxious to see how it will taste compared to my high fat one!
      Cheers
      Jay

    Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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